Liverpool and Everton contest the 224th Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on Saturday, with visiting manager Brendan Rodgers delighted to have seen his team turn a corner.
Rodgers’ men have taken 16 points from their last six Barclays Premier League outings and booked their place in the FA Cup fifth round with a late 2-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers on Wednesday.
Liverpool go into the match having not lost a derby since 2010 but were denied victory in this season’s reverse fixture by a late Phil Jagielka goal. With Rodgers eager for his side to maintain their upward momentum against their city rivals, the Liverpool manager talked up the squad’s renewed belief in Thursday’s press conference.
“They are incredible games to be involved in as a manager and for the players. We prepare really well for every game and this game is no different,” he said. “Our momentum at the moment is at a real good level. I’m happy with how it’s going for us, considering where we were at the first part of the season.
“In these types of games the form goes out of the window. The derby games bring a different sort of emotion. At this moment in time, we as a team are operating at a really good level. So, whether it’s home or away, we have real confidence that we can go and win the game.”
Everton have also managed to arrest recent poor form. They have bounced back from a four-match losing run in the Barclays Premier League over the Christmas and new year. While a run of one victory from five outings since then is far from ideal form, manager Roberto Martinez insists his side are much improved from where they were at the start of the year.
“Obviously, the last derby that we had at Goodison [3-3 in November 2013] was a phenomenal football game with plenty of goals and two teams with a real attacking mindset,” Martinez said. “I expect very much the same – two teams that are going into the fixture in very good moments of form.
“Liverpool have found their way of performing and are really enjoying a good run and we feel in a similar situation in terms of the confidence of the win that we had at the weekend.”
Liverpool’s Lazar Markovic is expected to be available despite suffering a knock against Bolton, while Martinez could welcome back James McCarthy (hamstring) and give a debut to loan signing Aaron Lennon. Tim Howard, Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar remain sidelined for Everton.
Everton (from): Howard, Joel, Stanek, Alcaraz, Baines, Browning, Coleman, Distin, Garbutt, Hibbert, Jagielka, Oviedo, Stones, Atsu, Barkley, Barry, Besic, Gibson, Lennon, McCarthy, McGeady, Kone, Long, Lukaku, Mirallas, Naismith.
Liverpool (from): Mignolet, Ward, Johnson, Jose Enrique, Lovren, Manquillo, Moreno, Sakho, Skrtel, Allen, Can, Coutinho, Gerrard, Henderson, Lallana, Lucas, Markovic, Balotelli, Borini, Ibe, Lambert, Sterling, Sturridge.
Referee: Anthony Taylor Assistants: G Beswick, D Cann Fourth Official: M Oliver
This fixture has seen more red cards (20) than any other in Barclays Premier League history, but there have been none in the last six meetings – the longest run without one since 1996.
Liverpool have lost only one of their last 16 Merseyside derbies in the league (W8 D7 L1).
Saturday’s Merseyside derby will be Brendan Rodgers’ 100th BPL match in charge of Liverpool. He has won 53, drawn 24 and lost 22 of those matches. He has a win percentage of 54% which is second only to Rafael Benitez (55%) amongst Liverpool managers in the competition.
Only against Newcastle United (6) has Daniel Sturridge scored more BPL goals than he has versus Everton (5).
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